As a community we need to define the terms we are using to describe ourselves. How do we differentiate between large and small growers? How do we separate and analyze crop size vs. environmental impact? Is it as simple as the larger a grow is, the more impact it has? Humboldt county cannabis growers comprise 1% of Humboldt county’s agriculture, yet their neighbors are still labeling them as the most irresponsible consumers of resources.
The proposed Humboldt county ordinance suggests that 5000 sq. ft.(1/8th acre) is small, 10,000 sq. ft.(¼ acre) is medium and 20,000 sq. ft.(½ acre) is large. The current CCVH “6th draft” does not describe the impact this will have on our water supply or our habitats.
Environmental impact is not directly related to crop size: there are small farmers who are guilty of diverting their surface water and dumping pesticides in their creeks. There are large farmers with professional systems in place to prevent environmental impact.
Let’s look at this from several perspectives. First let’s see what the growers have learned over the years. If you are a large grower you probably already know!
The “natural balance model” demonstrates how “scale” forces evolution to occur. Growers who have breached the 300 pound a year mark will tell you they had to adopt more sustainable systems when that threshold was passed. These growers have embraced industry appropriate methods and are acting as professionals.
The “comparison model” sizes our farms against other agricultural ventures in the county and state, which puts even the largest Humboldt cannabis grower in the lowest 1%. The smallest farms, orchards, and nurseries in California must average a minimum of 3 acres in order to be sustainable. Over 80% of Humboldt’s cannabis farms are probably too small to be sustainable.
The “supply and demand model” evaluates size based on what a farm must produce to maintain its market. In state dispensaries and out of state buyers both need to provide their customers a consistent product year round. To maintain a “farm to table” vertical marketing plan, they require a minimum of 600 pounds a year, preferably from one source. 80% of Humboldt growers are unable to meet that demand with the supply from their farm.
The “competition model” evaluates Humboldt’s farms against the cartels on our public lands and the corporations spread out across the Sacramento Valley. These ever present super entities occupy 100’s or 1000’s of acres. They are the definition of LARGE……even the Bulgarian fish killer is small by comparison!
Farms need to be evaluated on “total production vs. total impact.” Total size is irrelevant. Limiting farms by size will diminish our market base and will not solve our environmental impact issues.
DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN PRODUCTION AND IMPACT:
A GARDEN (30% of farmers): less than 100 pounds produced(under 5000 sq. ft.), so small they may have no impact individually, but also not be viable economically. Does the combined market contribution of these farmers justify the total impact?
A SMALL OPERATION (50% of farmers): less than 300 pounds produced(5000 sq. ft.), in the grey area: impacting the environment, not really viable economically, and no systems in place.
A SUSTAINABLE FARM (20% of farmers): more than 300 pounds produced(5000-20,000 sq. ft.): professional systems in place. These farmers have a large product to minimum impact ratio.
CORPORATE FARM(1%): as much as 3000 pounds produced. The super giant cartel or Bulgarian “syndicated” fish killer! These farms are not at all good for the community or the environment.